A long stretch of parks, restaurants, and shopping the Malecón runs alongside the river and is amazing. Adorned with beautiful gardens and face painting stands, it was particularly busy as it was a holiday in Ecuador. Among all of the activities was giant blow up, plastic balls that children are placed in and then pushed out onto a little lake where they can virtually walk on water. There was an age limit of 15 years for this activity so, naturally, I talked my way in (with much coaxing by Britt I might add as she insisted I could totally pass for 15). I promise to post some pictures of it because this was quite priceless I assure you!
Equally as entertaining, El Parque de las Iguanas is an open plaza inhabited by about 20 huge and friendly iguanas. These amazing creatures are so used to visitors (and visitors feeding them) that they will let you get close enough to touch them! Which of course we did. This fun day was capped off with happy hour and nachos at a riverside table along the Malecón.
Our next day (Saturday) began early with our planned destination: Montañita. Having missed the first bus there and not wanting to wait another 4 hours for the next, we decided to take a taxi there. Imagine the seagull "mine!" scene from Finding Nemo and you have essentially imagined what it was like trying to find a driver- they all wanted the job. We shared the car we eventually chose with 2 other travelers and were shoved in a 5 passenger vehicle with 6 people. Needless to say we got real close during the ride and Chantelle had to keep ducking down to avoid detection from the police- always an adventure.
However, this was all worth it for how cool Montañita was. Built right on the beach, this tiny tourist town is only about 4 by 4 streets wide. Our hostel was right in the center of town and made it easy for us to enjoy what Britt named, "Vegas on the beach... Without the gambling and more dancing." Amply and artistically decorated, this fascinating town was a constant party and we loved every minute of it! It was strange to see so many tourists but fun to see so many surfers and hippies attracted by the famed waves of the Pacific ocean. One of our favorite quotes from the trip came from Freddie, a jewelry artisan. He said, "Welcome to Hippieland!" and he was quite right, they even had vegetarian food - none of which I ate I might add.
All in all it was an amazing trip and a nice break away from Chulucanas, but we were definitely happy to return home once again.
I'm really loving it here now. I've slowed down a bit, learned some patience, and take each day one step at a time. After all, "Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece."